TIME Sex

Everyone at the World Cup Is Getting Laid, Thanks to Apps

Tinder and Grindr see a huge uptick in use in Brazil

An estimated 600,000 tourists and 3.1 million locals will be traveling in Brazil for this summer’s month-long FIFA World Cup, and they won’t be lonely. Soccer fans are taking full advantage of the event to meet new lovers using location-based hookup apps, Quartz reports.

Hookup apps like Tinder and Grindr, which are popular around the world, allow users to swipe through pictures of potential matches that are geographically close to them. If two people select one another, they can choose to start chatting and then take it from there. This simple, quick setup caters perfectly to short-time travelers looking for a fling after their soccer team of choice wins a game—or better yet, looking for some comfort after a devastating loss.

Tinder is reporting a 50% uptick in downloads and usage in Brazil—which already has the dating app’s third-largest user base, after the U.S. and the U.K.—since the World Cup began. Grindr, an app designed specifically for gay and bisexual men, has seen a 31% increase in the number of times users have opened the app in the area since the tournament began in June.

This isn’t the first time Tinder has made a splash at an international sporting event. Olympians admitted to frequent use of the app during the Winter Olympics in Sochi this past winter. And why not? There were so many in-shape people to choose from.

Hookup apps are probably not as popular among the athletes in Brazil right now: Some of the World Cup players are restricted in their romantic escapades by their teams. But even if the players may not be getting any action, that’s not stopping the fans.

[Quartz]

TIME relationships

Casual Sex Is Good for You, According to Your New Favorite Study

Couple feet
Getty Images

You do you

Turns out that no-strings-attached sexy times are good for you, so don’t let the haters stop you from doin’ your thang.

A recent study conducted by researchers from NYU and Cornell dispels the popular notion that casual hookups — defined as sexual activity outside the context of a romantic relationship — will leave you with low self-esteem and depression. The research, published in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science, involved a group of NYU students who kept a weekly diary over the course of 12 weeks documenting any and all adult snuggles — and the effect those instances had on their overall well-being.

Sociosexually unrestricted students reported higher well-being after having casual sex compared to not having sex, the researchers found. Also, those who were sociosexually unrestricted reported lower stress and greater overall emotional health after casual sex. (This is … maybe not super surprising.)

Although past reports have shown that women are less likely than men to orgasm during casual sex, this particular study showed few overall differences between genders.

The study’s authors explained that “the effects of casual sex depend on the extent to which this behavior is congruent with one’s general personality tendencies.” So, in other words: if you want to have casual sex, you definitely should. If you do not want to have casual sex, you shouldn’t. The main takeaway of this study? You do you.

TIME Sex

Can Sex Really Dampen Athletic Performance?

SOCCER: JUN 06 Portugal v Mexico
The Mexican wall waits for a free kick from Portugal's Nani (17) during an international friendly before the 2014 World Cup, Foxborough, Mass., June 6, 2014. Fred Kfoury III—Icon SMI/Corbis

Many teams at the World Cup are abstaining from sex. Does science back up their abstinence?

Several teams participating in this year’s World Cup have team-wide bans on having sex before games, because coaches believe it could interfere with performance.

“There will be no sex in Brazil,” Safet Susic, the coach of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s national soccer team told reporters. “I am not interested what the other coaches do. This is not a holiday trip, we are there to play football at the World Cup.”

Abstinence is not a phenomenon reserved for the World Cup; several Olympic teams have taken temporary vows of celibacy during the games (though that has not stopped Olympic villages from running out of thousands of condoms). It’s even reported that boxer Muhammad Ali refused to have sex six weeks before a match.

However, there’s a lack of evidence proving sex makes people worse—or better—at sports. “It’s often talked about, but it has not been shown to be true,” says sports medicine physician Dr. Jordan Metzel. “There are lots of factors that could account for how a player performs.” For instance, doing the deed can take time away from getting enough shuteye, and getting enough sleep is non-negotiable for peak performance. (French players are allowed to have sex, but “not all night,” the team’s former doctor told 20Minutes.fr) The authors of a 2000 study note that former New York Yankees manager Casey Stengel once said: “It’s not the sex that wrecks these guys, it’s staying up all night looking for it.”

There have been few studies looking specifically at sex and athletic performance but results were inconclusive. For example, a mid-90s study looked at the effects of sex on measures like aerobic power and oxygen pulse among 11 men running on treadmills. The men were tested twice, once having sex 12 hours before and once without sex. Putting aside the fact that it was a very small sample size with limited testing, the data came back showing the results from both experiments were no different.

Another review of 31 studies on sex and athletics published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found weak evidence that having sex the night before competition affects performance. Exhaustion cannot be a great factor since most sexual intercourse burns only 25–50 calories—the equivalent of walking up two flights of stairs. The authors of that research conclude that it likely just depends on the person. Some may feel that sex helps them relieve anxiety, while for others it becomes a distraction.

There’s also the possibility that sex during major athletic events leads to distractions. Some teams, like Nigeria, only allow players to have sex with their wives. Perhaps it’s because the hook-up scene can becoming distracting. “There was a point where I had to be like OK, this is way too distracting. I deleted my [Tinder] account to focus on the Olympics,”American snowboarder Jamie Anderson told reporters.

However, no studies have looked at the psychological effects of having sex before a game and whether athletes believe sex helps or harms them, which may be more important. “In sports, people have all kinds of theories, even if it’s not medically substantiated. For instance: compression gear for speed and titanium necklaces for performance,” says Dr. Metzel. “We don’t have scientific evidence to back those claims, but if players think abstaining from sex helps them, it may give them a psychological edge.”

Many athletes have pre-game rituals, or lucky tokens, and some research has shown that these superstitions actually improve performance. So perhaps a team sex-ban technically isn’t doing much for performance on the field, but when it comes to getting in the right mindset, it’s not out of the question that it could make all the difference for some players.

TIME Sex

The Smut Shaming of Dov Charney and Terry Richardson

Dov Charney American Apparel
Dov Charney, chairman and chief executive officer of American Apparel Inc., stands for a portrait in a company retail store in New York City on July 29, 2010. Keith Bedford—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Fashion giants Dov Charney and Terry Richardson have both been accused of sexual harassment multiple times (and always settled out of court). But are they finally getting their due?

Dov Charney and Terry Richardson are like the weird uncles of the fashion world, complete with ’70s glasses, questionable facial hair and a tendency to strip down when you least expect it.

They have another thing in common: both Charney and Richardson have built their brands on selling sex. As founder and CEO of American Apparel, Charney is especially fond of showing pubic hair and using semi-nude teenage models in his ads, and was known for walking around his factories in his underwear. And Richardson, one of the most famous photographers in fashion, has photographed his own face drenched in semen and is known for getting naked (and becoming erect) during photo shoots with female models (he says it’s to make the models feel more comfortable).

At first, the controversies around their personal behavior brought attention and buzz to their envelope-pushing work. But sex only sells until it stops seeming edgy, and that day may have come for both Charney and Richardson. Ultimately, the sex factor that launched their careers may morph into a smutty reputation that brings them down.

And it would not be entirely surprising. Both Charney and Richardson have been accused of harassing women they work with for years. Both have been named in multiple sexual-harassment lawsuits. In 2008, Charney, 45, was accused of keeping a teenage employee as his “sex slave” (she said he coerced her into performing oral sex by threatening that she would lose her job). He’s also been sued for sexual harassment by multiple other employees and models, but all the lawsuits against him have been dismissed or settled out of court. And Richardson, 48, has been sued at least twice by former models (both lawsuits were settled) and has been accused at least nine times of sexual weirdness during photo shoots. (Requests for comment from Richardson and from American Apparel were not returned.)

We’ve known about these allegations for a long time, and until now, both men seemed to weather the storms of bad press.

But on Wednesday night, the board of American Apparel dismissed Charney amid “ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct.” They didn’t identify a specific case, but an anonymous source told the Los Angeles Times that the “misconduct” involved Charney’s bad behavior with women. In other words, the sexual weirdness that left a bad taste six years ago is completely unpalatable now.

Charney’s story is like a Shakespearean porno — the sex-infused imagery that sold his clothes became the smut that sank his career. It is a sign that times have changed. Behavior that used to be tolerated as the price of working with an eccentric genius is now considered unacceptable. No matter how cool you are, you don’t get a “free pass” if the public concludes you’re taking advantage of women.

Richardson hasn’t been dumped like Charney, but a recent profile in New York magazine shed light on some of his stranger sexual proclivities and how they’ve affected his career — the article was titled “Is Terry Richardson an Artist or a Predator?” Magazines like Vogue and fashion companies like Target Style and H&M have said they have “no future plans” to work with Richardson. A Change.org petition to get big brands to stop employing Richardson has already gained over 34,000 signatures.

And Charney’s antics didn’t seem to be helping his company. American Apparel had been hemorrhaging money in the years since Charney’s lawsuits started, and lost over $396 million since 2009 (the company wasn’t in total free-fall the whole time, but the overall financial picture looked bleak). Yet in the hours after Charney’s dismissal, stock rose 20%.

To be fair, Charney’s leadership wasn’t all bad. His commitment to making all of American Apparel’s clothing in the U.S. and supporting fair wages for workers is certainly admirable. After the tragic collapse of a factory in Bangladesh last year, Charney wrote that “the apparel industry’s relentless and blind pursuit of the lowest possible wages cannot be sustained over time, ethically or fiscally.”

But Charney’s narrative is familiar to any girl who’s found out the hard way that sex sells and sells and sells, until it the moment it doesn’t. Just ask Miley Cyrus when she turns 40 (or, for that matter, Madonna). Where sexual women are slut-shamed, Charney and Richardson are being smut-shamed, as well they should be. Unlike girls who simply express their sexuality, Charney and Richardson are accused of taking advantage of women less powerful than themselves. That’s what’s really shameful.

Women have known for years that sex can have social consequences, unfair as they may be. Maybe men are finally getting a taste of that medicine.

TIME Sex

#Popsexed: What We Learn About Sex From Pop Culture

Sex and the City
Actors Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Noth on the set of "Sex and the City" HBO/Getty Images

When TV, movies and book are our sex ed

Not every school has sex education, and many parents feel uncomfortable talking with their children about the birds and the bees. For girls, who mature earlier than boys, the lack of information can be especially confusing.

So many kids seek out information from other sources, namely popular culture. To find out what they’re learning, Bitch Media started a conversation via the hashtag #popsexed about what women found out about sex from pop culture. The response they got suggests that girls discover the facts of life from movies, TV shows and books ranging from Sex and the City to Dirty Dancing to author Judy Blume.

The other thing the submissions reveal is that pop culture isn’t always the best sex ed source. Women shared their experiences on Twitter about how what they saw in entertainment and other media made them feel ashamed of their bodies or confused about how to engage sexually with a boy.

Here are the best #popsexed responses:

 

READ MORE: What’s Desperately Needed In Sex Ed Now

 

TIME Internet

How ‘Hot or Not’ Created the Internet We Know Today

Hot or Not screenshot on iOS Hot or Not

It's the circle of Internet life

“Hot or Not,” the site that lets you rate other people’s attractiveness, relaunched in the U.S. Tuesday as an app 14 years after it tapped into our baser selves. But did it ever really go away?

Here’s how the original site worked: Users voluntarily submit photos of themselves, and visitors to the site would rate the attractiveness of said photos on a scale of one to 10. The people with the highest ratings were deemed the “hottest.” The judgmental site inspired many of the dating apps that we have today where a potential match’s first picture determines whether he or she makes the cut. But unlike Tinder or OkCupid where swiping left or right theoretically serves a purpose—finding a date—”Hot or Not” was originally just for fun. (If you consider it amusing to find out what hundreds of strangers think of your looks in a particular photo.)

Two Berkeley grads thought of the idea in 2000 as they debated the attractiveness of a passing woman on the street. They decided to let the masses vote. Within a week of launching, the site has two million page views per day.

Sound familiar? A scene in The Social Network shows Mark Zuckerberg creating a similar “hot or not” conceit using pictures of Harvard students. The site, Facemash, really did exist (three years after Hot or Not launched) and really was a Facebook predecessor. It allowed two visitors to compare two students pictures side-by-side and vote who was more attractive. In short, Hot or Not had a part in inspiring what’s now the world’s top social networking site.

The concept also spawned a short-lived reality television show, Are You Hot?: The Search for America’s Sexiest People. The show, which premiered the same year as FaceMash in 2003, featured a panel of judges who would rate contestant’s physical attractiveness. The Hot or Not site had no association with the show, but it certainly created an appetite for such media.

But Hot or Not’s biggest contribution to the way we live our lives today was the gamification of attractiveness. Hot or Not was a fun pastime like online games at the time. As my colleague Laura Stampler has written for TIME before, smartphone apps have similarly made dating into a game—a very addictive game. Even the interface is game-like: the stacked photos on Tinder look like a deck of cards. The swiping is so easy, people play without even thinking about it—like 2048 or Candy Crush.

But none of these dating apps would exist if it weren’t for Hot or Not’s original invention.

Hot or Not has passed through many hands since its original conception, but is now owned by Andrey Andreev, a 40-year-old Russian who describes himself as a serial entrepreneur. He founded Badoo, a billion-dollar social networking site in Europe that hasn’t been able to break into the U.S. Hot or Not, he believes, will provide him that access to the states.

But somehow even though Hot or Not invented the addicting game of judging other people’s looks, it found itself late to the party once mobile computing took over our lives. Dating apps have already flooded the market with ways to rate people, and now Hot or Not is trying to look more like them. In the new app version, the 10-point system has been replaced by “hot” or “not” buttons (similar to the right and left swipe). And if two people rate each other as “hot” a connection is made, and they can chat one another.

Unlike most dating apps, though, you can see how popular you are as measured by the number of “hot” votes you get by others. The makers believe that people will want come back to check their rating and compare their “hotness” to others, much in the way kids compete for followers on Instagram. But this version is a little bit horrifying because while it might be fun to rate other people, it’s never fun to see what strangers really think of you. If finding out how anonymous people judge your attractiveness sounds disheartening, remember Hot or Not was never meant to be monetized or serve a purpose. It was meant to be slightly-malicious fun.

And now it’s entering an already-flooded market of dating apps which have capitalized on that fun by making the process more private. Getting so many matches on dating apps like Tinder or Hinge or OkCupid takes away the sting of being rejected by a few you liked. On those apps, only you know how many people liked you back; it’s not public knowledge (salvaging your integrity). Hot or Not plans to blow all that up in order to find the “hottest people in America.”

Fourteen years after Hot or Not was invented, it’s trying to beat everyone else at its own vapid game. Welcome to the circle of life on the Internet.

TIME Sex

World Cup: The Crazy Rules Some Teams Have About Pre-Game Sex

Brazil's national soccer players pose for a team photo before their 2014 World Cup opening match against Croatia at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Brazil's national soccer players pose for a team photo before their 2014 World Cup opening match against Croatia at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo on June 12, 2014. Paulo Whitaker—Reuters

Science says that sex can actually help, not hurt, athletic performance. But wary coaches disagree

When you’re competing in the world’s most-watched sporting event, you don’t take any chances with your body. So while experts may disagree about whether having sex before a game can affect a player’s performance, many teams at this year’s World Cup have implemented sex bans.

“There will be no sex in Brazil. They can find another solution, they can even masturbate if they want. I am not interested what the other coaches do, this is not a holiday trip, we are there to play football at the World Cup,” Safet Susic, the coach of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s national soccer team told reporters of his team’s ban in April.

On Tuesday, Quartz broke down the sex rules for the World Cup teams. To sum up:

Sex is permitted on these teams: Germany, Spain, the United States, Australia, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, Uruguay and England

Sex is banned on these teams: Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile and Mexico

And the rules are complicated on these teams: France (you can have sex but not all night), Brazil (you can have sex, but not “acrobatic” sex), Costa Rica (can’t have sex until the second round) and Nigeria (can sleep with wives but not girlfriends)

The rules for the remaining teams are unknown.

Are some sex rules excessive? Probably. The two most common concerns about pre-game sex are that intercourse might make a player tired and weak or it could affect him psychologically. Studies have shown that the former is a myth.

Many coaches and athletes believe that abstaining from sex builds up aggression, a belief that probably stems from ancient civilizations like the Greeks, who thought that men derived strength from their semen. This theory is so pervasive that even Muhammed Ali refused to have sex six weeks before a fight, fearing that ejaculation would release the testosterone (and therefore aggression) he needed for a boxing match.

But in fact, the opposite has been proven to be true. Studies show testosterone increases after sex. “After three months without sex, which is not so uncommon for some athletes, testosterone dramatically drops to levels close to children’s levels,” Emmanuele A. Jannini of the University of L’Aquila in Italy who has studied the affect of sex on athletic performance told National Geographic. “Do you think this may be useful for a boxer?”

Which means that sex may actually increase performance by releasing testosterone into the body.

And sex doesn’t exhaust athletes. Most bedroom sessions burn only 25 to 50 calories, the equivalent of walking up two flights of stairs. For an all-star athlete, that’s nothing. Studies show that having sex the night before a competition has no affect on strength or endurance.

Whether coitus would affect the soccer players psychologically is harder to test, but experts maintain that it can have a positive mental effect. “If athletes are too anxious and restless the night before an event, then sex may be a relaxing distraction,” Ian Shrier, a sports medicine specialist at McGill University, wrote in a 2000 review of 31 studies on sex and sports titled “Does Sex the Night Before Competition Decrease Performance?” published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine.

Some experts even argue that previous World Cups wins prove sex can be beneficial.

“The Netherlands national soccer team, at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, is an example of this,” Juan Carlos Medina, general coordinator of the sports department at Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico told CNN. “Some of those players were accompanied by their wives, and they won the second place. I don’t say this is a determinant factor, but it brings support.”

“Even Pele confessed that he never suspended sexual encounters with his wife before a game, I mean, that thing about sex helping to relax is a verified truth,” he added.

Ultimately whether sex will negatively impact a person’s emotions before a game depends on each individual. Some find it’s a relief, others a distraction (especially if it keeps them up all night). “In general, an athlete should never try something before an important competition that they have not already tried in lesser competitions or practice,” Shrier concludes.

TIME Sex

Interactive Maps: See Where 4 STDs Are Most Rampant

Scroll over each state to see the rates of STDs per 100k people

Earlier this year, the CDC released a report on STDs in the U.S. that showed slight increases in nearly all strains.

The yearly report provides only a snapshot of the numbers, since many cases of STDs covered in the report like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis go unreported. Among all three STDs, only congenital syphilis (syphilis present at birth), have gone down. Research engine FindTheBest took the CDC numbers and created these interactive maps for TIME out of the data.

Scroll over your own state and check out the STD rate.

Gonorrhea

Syphilis

Chlamydia

HIV

TIME Humor

Lindsay Lohan Recalls the Time She Had Sex With James Franco

Actress Lindsay Lohan speaks at a press conference on Jan. 20, 2014 in Park City, Utah.
Actress Lindsay Lohan speaks at a press conference on Jan. 20, 2014 in Park City, Utah. George Pimentel—Getty Images

(This is a work of fiction.)

Tuesday, James Franco published his fictional account of the time he did not have sex with Lindsay Lohan—another platform on which to deny her infamous “sex list.” Well, she maintains they did. Here’s what happened.*

James Franco says that we did not have sex and one of the things I learned growing up in a family of chaos was to respect other people’s truths, even if that truth is something they made up driving home wasted in an Escalade that I frickin bought. Anyway, since he has shared his version of events, I think it’s only fair that I share mine.

It was a few years ago. I don’t remember if I was sober or not. I think I probably was. I actually never even really drank that much, and as I told Oprah, I only did coke 10-15 times, so statistically, the chances are good I was not wasted when this happened.

I was wandering around the Chateau Marmont, which is a hotel. Some people like to go on and on about what it represents to them and all the stuff they did there, but I’m just going to stick with calling it a hotel, because on Long Island we like to keep it simple.

I will say that I do like the Chateau because there are lots of beautiful flowers tended by people who care as deeply about tending flowers as I do about my passion, starring in films. I had just taken a swim in the pool where, per the advice of several therapists, I had taken some time to imagine that I was one of any number of various sea creatures. Afterwards I had taken a leisurely shower and then put a deep conditioning pack on my hair. So I was just walking around inhaling the scent of night blooming jasmine and my deep conditioning pack when one of the bungalow doors opened.

This guy stuck his head out. I didn’t know who it was. In fact at first I thought it was this guy who worked at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Beverly and I was like what is he doing here? “Hey,” he said.

As I got closer I saw that it was that actor who always wants people to think that he’s smart but I still couldn’t remember his name.

“Oh hey,” I said.

“What are you doing?” he said.

“I’m deep conditioning my hair,” I said.

“Why?” he said. He said it in this really challenging way, like deep conditioning your hair was against the law.

“Uh, because it has a lot of split ends from being so color treated and all the extensions that I have used over the last few years, being an actress who cares about my craft, the way that Chateau Marmont flower-tenders care about flowers.”

He shook his head. He was kind of good looking I guess but there was something about his face. He looked so serious, like he had just finished reading 1000 books and had to read 1000 more or he was never going to get to watch TV again.

He said, “Have you ever thought about all the time you spend deep conditioning your hair? Have you ever thought about how the expectations that society places on you as a celebrity and how you exploit yourself by responding to them?”

I said, “Duh, that’s all I think about. But deep conditioning my hair is one of the ways I find my center.”

“That’s beautiful,” he said. He actually got a tear in his eye. Then he said, “I’m sorry, it’s just that the intersection of the banal commercial world with narratives about inner peace triggers a conditioned, sentimental response in me that produces something like actual feelings.”

It was all clear now. “You’re James Franco,” I said.

He asked me to come in and I did. I sat in a chair.

“Gus Van Zandt once sat in that chair,” he said.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know who that is,” I said, even though I did. I knew anyone who went to school for as long as James Franco had was probably just enough of a jerk to imagine that everyone he came in contact with was the stupidest person in the world. “Is that your dad?”

James Franco laughed. “In a way he is, I guess. Parenthood is so – circumscribed by biology in this culture. And really, since what I am is an artist, really, more than a human, and since he is an artist, more than a human, really, why can it not be said that our relationship was more of a parenting relationship than the one I had with the people to whom I am attached by mere biology? Now, if biology was the ideology I adhered to, certainly, by that measure I would have to allow that he is NOT my father.” All of a sudden he looked really excited. “You know what’s intense? In a way, Gus and I are like – husband and wife. And “Milk” is our gay baby.”

He got very excited. “That is such a good idea for an art installation! A series of photographs, fake documentary style. Gus and I meet, we fall in love, and we have a baby, he gives birth to it, I think, not me – well. Wait. Maybe it should be me. Yeah. An image of me pregnant would be so super intense, and really open up a lot of intense dialogue about gender, whereas if an older, gay less gorgeous person was pregnant, it wouldn’t be as interesting. Don’t you think?”

“I guess,” I said.

James Franco went on. “And so I give birth to a baby, but the baby is a movie, not a baby. That is seriously twisted. A movie being a baby, but really being a movie? Don’t you think?”

“I guess,” I said. “Do you mind if I rinse this stuff out of my hair?”

I don’t even think he heard me. I went in the bathroom. He kept talking. “And the baby-as-movie goes to pre-school, and high school, and to college. And meanwhile, we get divorced and the judge puts the baby-move on the witness stand to see who it wants to live with.”

I came out of the bathroom. “And this is all in photographs? Why not fake documentary?”

He frowned again and snorted. “I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced the way that the medium of photography, particularly black and white, legitimizes the unreal,” he said. “In fact, I am pretty sure you haven’t, or you wouldn’t have suggested that.”

All of a sudden, I was really, really tired. As I said earlier, I definitely wasn’t wasted, so I think it’s more likely that I got really tired because the smell of my conditioner made me tired, not because some weird combination of alcohol and drugs had made me unusually animated and then left me suddenly drained of energy and any sense of self-will. I lay down.

“Anyway,” he said, “Not only does photography interact with our memory in a way that makes us think we are re-experiencing things we have never in fact truly experienced, it also, and this is probably even more crucial for this story, adds a shimmer of cold terror to the uncanny and that,” he smashed his hand down on the coffee table, “is my project as an artist.”

Then he got serious. He came over and stroked my hair. “I want to reward you for inspiring me. This is the best idea I have ever had, and I never would have had it about you. Can I reward you by reading you a story?”

He said it was called A Perfect Day for Bananafish. I don’t remember very much about it, except at one point, he stopped reading and started to explain to me that it should really be called something else gross and dumb because of something about the fish being phallic which personally I feel like he made up. I can’t really remember. I was so tired, but somewhere, a little voice piped up and let me know there was actually a really brilliant way to get through the next hour of my life without having to walk all the way back to my room, and I was like, “If I have sex with you, will you stop telling me your ideas?”

I am a lady, so I don’t want to tell you what happened next. But I think it’s messed up that the world is always waiting for me to fail. I mean, has James Franco ever come out with a series of photographs “documenting” his “relationship” and “parenthood” with Gus Van Zandt? No. He hasn’t. And it’s because of me. So leave me alone. I did you all a big favor.

*In Sarah Miller’s imagination. She also writes for NewYorker.com and The Hairpin, among other outlets, and has published two novels, Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl.

TIME

11 Things You Didn’t Know About Miscarriage

Earlier this week, reality TV stars Giuliana and Bill Rancic revealed that the surrogate who was nine weeks pregnant with their second child had a miscarriage.

Giuliana told PEOPLE that she had had a miscarriage herself in 2010 before turning to a surrogate, Delphine. Now, that sense of loss was amplified.

“It was just heartbreaking,” Giuliana said, “I just started sobbing uncontrollably. But I had to get myself together for her. She’s really strong and amazing.”

Still, she and Bill are looking forward to the day when their 21-month-old son can have a sibling.

“Because miscarriage so common, you need to be aware that it could happen to you,” says Teresa Berg, M.D., director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. “And just because you’ve had one doesn’t mean you’re not going to have another.”

Here’s what you need to know to minimize your risk and, if needed, move forward.

Miscarriage happens more often than you think

The figure often cited is that about 15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, which is also called “early pregnancy loss” and “spontaneous abortion.” But with the extra-sensitive, early-response pregnancy tests available these days, that number may be as high as 30% of all pregnancies, Dr. Berg says.

Health.com: 15 Signs You May Have an Iron Deficiency

Miscarriage happens early in pregnancy

The definition of miscarriage is a pregnancy lost before 20 weeks, but almost all miscarriages occur before the 12-week mark, says Dr. Berg. (That’s why expecting parents are often told to wait until the second trimester to start spreading the news.) A pregnancy lost after 20 weeks is usually referred to as stillbirth.

You may not know you’ve miscarried

“You can miscarry within the first 10 days of conception and not even recognize that you’ve had a pregnancy loss,” says Dr. Berg. “You may think it’s just a period.” Bleeding is a common symptom of miscarriage, so is severe cramping. If you have either symptom and you know you’re pregnant, see a doctor or go to the emergency room to avoid two possible complications of miscarriage: hemorrhage and infection.

Health.com: 10 Ways to Boost Your Odds of Getting Pregnant

It’s not the mother’s fault

Most miscarriages occur because of genetic abnormalities in the embryo, Dr. Berg says. There’s really no way to predict or prevent them. They just happen.

Older women are more likely to miscarry

Miscarriages become even more common as women get older. That’s because as eggs age, the chances of genetic abnormalities increase.

Health.com: How to Help Someone Who’s Depressed

Fertility treatments may raise your risk

But if they do, it’s probably a small increase and it may be hard to determine if it’s due to the treatments or to other factors—many women undergoing fertility treatment are older, or have other conditions that affect fertility. If you’re 40 and trying to get pregnant, you’ll have a better chance of carrying a baby to term if you use a donor egg from a younger woman, says Dr. Berg.

Your weight matters

Being too thin or overweight can both increase the risk of a miscarriage, says Dr. Berg. Diabetes, a common complication of obesity, can also increase the risk, but only if the condition is poorly controlled. “Women who are checking their blood sugar and have [blood sugar] that’s in a normal range have a risk no different than someone who doesn’t have diabetes,” she says.

Health.com: 11 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Belly Fat

Smoking is a known risk factor

Women who smoke have a higher chance of miscarriage so add this to the long list of reasons not to smoke—whether you’re pregnant or not.

Sex doesn’t cause it

You’ve likely heard the old wives’ tale that intercourse can increase the risk of losing a baby. Well, it doesn’t. Neither does exercise nor continuing to work, Dr. Berg says.

One miscarriage doesn’t mean you’ll have more

Many, many women who’ve had a miscarriage go on to have one or more children. In fact, doctors usually don’t look for an underlying reason for miscarriage until you’ve had two or more, she says. (So, yes, you can suffer more than one.)

It’s normal to grieve after a miscarriage

Feelings of loss are common after a miscarriage, even one that happens very early on. “Women can attach to a pregnancy even if they haven’t seen anything on an ultrasound or felt the baby move,” Dr. Berg says. “There is a grieving process.” Some women have significant depression and depression-like symptoms and fathers can grieve, too. Support groups from organizations like the March of Dimes and Resolve can help, and so can the support of close family and friends.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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